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How to use an industrial X-Ray CT system?

by Ludovic on 19 Jan 2021 at 16h27

Widely used in many areas of the everyday life, the application is best known in medical imaging by visualizing the most complex structures of the human body. The equipment is not only used as a diagnostic tool but also for our security, for example at airports.

In an industrial process, the non-destructive testing is a unique evaluation technique used by professionals for inner structures inspection. While X-Ray computed tomography is a very innovative technology that has transformed many business areas, its day-to-day usage can often seem a complex cycle. Therefore, an intuitive and user-friendly equipment is required.

X-Ray CT tomograph process chain

The working principle is pretty simple and you need to first familiarize with the following components in order to understand the process:

X-Ray tube

It is a tube that converts electrical energy into X-rays. X-rays are generated by the acceleration of electrons at very high speeds. These X-rays can then penetrate various objects or substances by exploring every detail of their structure.

Imaging detector

The x-ray detector convert the X-rays that strike its surface into light, and then turn the light into electronic data that a computer can display as a high-quality digital image.

Rotation table

It’s also called a sample manipulator which positions the sample (an object or any solid substance of some kind) in the path of the radiation beam and rotates through a specific angle.

Acquisition computer unit

During the scanning process the images acquired consist of many pixels recorded into 2D projection images. After the scan, these images are reconstructed into a 3D volume thanks to the algorithm calculating a process known as cross-sectional images.

Radiation shielded cabinet

The X-ray system is placed in a radiation-protected cabin, which protects the user from ionizing radiation and thus ensures his safety.

Step by step guideline 

1. Setup  

For the sample preparation and mounting, it is crucial to avoid movement. It should involve very low-density materials such as lightweight foam where we load the sample and make sure it holds in place. The sample holder must be transparent to X-Rays, which is why a very light and low-density material is used.
The best position is a slight angle and not directly straight in order to make sure that parallel surfaces are penetrated easily by the X-Ray beam.

3. Reconstruction

The scanning itself is done automatically with no user interaction after settings are adjusted even though observation from time to time is suggested. Afterward, with all the 2D images being obtained, the 3D reconstruction begins.
Tomographic reconstruction requires little intervention by the operator. The reconstruction software we developed offers many automatic corrections, which reduce and simplify the required operations needed to start the reconstruction process. As for the acquisition, reconstruction can be fully automated when a series of parts needs to be scanned.

2. Scanning

After the sample setup, you have to launch the scan using specific settings. The X-Act software suite, provided with each RX Solutions CT system, has several modes which allow you regardless of your level of expertise to perform a scan with ease while obtaining results of the highest possible quality. After placing the component on the sample manipulator, then the scanning settings can either be done automatically or set by the operator.

4. Analysis

The third step, the so-called post-processing step, is carried out using software such as Volume Graphics or Avizo. These will allow working on the 3D volume resulting from the reconstruction. This stage is only necessary if you want to go beyond simple visualization, to carry out measurements, quantify defects, etc... Then, a lot of analyses can be done, on all the surfaces of your samples, both external and internal. 
At the end of the day, X-Ray computed tomography is an extremely powerful and versatile imaging technique that offers a non-destructive inspection of your samples in a short time. The entire scanning process, from the acquisition to the post processing has been developed to make this technology accessible and integrable whatever the environment in which the equipment will be used: Laboratory, R&D, production, quality.

RX Solutions offers specific training in 2D radioscopy and 3D computed tomography to help you become quickly familiar with our equipment and software.